I still can’t believe that I’ve lived in Leeds since ’93, and I’ve never been in the Leeds Library. It’s a subscription library that has an air of 19th century comfort and confusion about it. Wall to wall books, soft comfy reading chairs, random globes and sculptures and more books. A brilliant space for a poetry event, just so much fun and perfect for every instagram post that you ever wanted to put up.
Perfect too for the five open mic performers that opened the evening. A nice blend of styles and pieces, including a reflection on Grenfell merged into extracts from Dante’s Inferno, and two revealing pieces about alcohol by Gemma Baker.
We then had a set from Genevieve L Walsh, who gave us fire and passion and character. There was a poem about growing into middle aged respectability and worrying about the mess that you are going to make, a poem prompted by contextual advertising about being compost for a future tree, and poems about people. People; and how those people that you share your life with, become legends in your own lifetimes – that was a theme that I really connected with and enjoyed. I did enjoy the tree burial one particularly.
Finally, we had Joelle Taylor. Wow. If you like performance poetry that fills the room with winks and shy smiles and bold gestures and characterisation and words of brutal passion and power, then this was for you. It took about two seconds for us to realise that we weren’t in for gentle musings and delicate word play. This was hot blooded and bad mouthed. And it was a joy. The poems took us through all kinds of emotions; empathy, compassion, laughter, anger, hope, desperation… Stories of city life, stories of selling girls on the dark net, stories of class, stories of gender. They were personal but they were entirely relatable. As an audience we were drawn in and engaged, both physically and emotionally. I’ve never had a lock-in in a library before but I am absolutely certain that we would have stayed the night for more of this.
Thanks to Matt for pulling this together and hosting so well. It was a great night and I look forward to more such nights in future 🙂
And if you need to know what chelping means – it’s the Yorkshire definition and not the Urban Dictionary one!